Friday, September 17, 2010

Curing Onions

Two of my readers asked me to explain how I got my onions from garden to ready-for-storage. So, KM and Susan, here's how I do it.

I wait to harvest the onions until the tops have all fallen over and turned brown. Then I pick a sunny, breezy day and pull all of the onions brushing off as much dirt as I can with my hands. I lay them out on the soil in a single layer and let them stay there for a little snooze for the rest of the day. In the late afternoon before any dew falls on them, I gather them up to bring inside.

The books say you should lay the onions out in a single layer in a room that is well ventilated, has an even temperature (not too hot, not too cold), and out of the sunlight. (Uh-huh, sure. I'll put them in my specially built Onion Drying Room.) They should stay there two to three weeks.

Since I don't have an Onion Drying Room (imagine that), I put all of the onions in several plastic milk crates.

We have a someday-greenhouse structure on the side of the house which is well ventilated. I put the crates full of onions on the floor in there and then build a crude lean-to around the crates with scrap sheets of plywood leaving cracks on the sides and an open top for the breeze to blow through. The plywood protects the onions from the direct sunlight. I know the temperature there doesn't stay constant, but it's the best I can do.

This year I left them there for close to three weeks. Yesterday I hauled them all out onto the deck where I cut off the ugly remaining dead tops (leaving about 1/2"-1" of "neck" on the onion). Then with my hands I tore off any scraggly roots on the bottom end and rubbed off the outer dirty skins which were just about falling off anyway.

The onions should then still have a golden brown tight skin covering which keeps the onions snug as a bug in a rug until you use them. I usually end up with several onions that I accidentally rub too much skin off of revealing the white, raw onion. These I just keep on my kitchen counter to use first. Or you could dehydrate them or chop up and freeze them.

All the others that are now in good shape for storage go into mesh bags I've saved (and use over and over) for just that purpose. Then back into the milk crates they go and get stored in a corner of our attached garage that stays cool and dry but doesn't freeze. It probably stays around 45-50 degrees most of the time. Whenever I'm out of onions in the kitchen, I go to the garage and grab one of the bags from storage.

My method is not very scientific but it works for me. Maybe this will give some of you an idea of how you might prep and save your onions in storage.


KM said...

Thanks Mama Pea!

beth said...

Thank you. I just cleaned and prepared my onions for storage your post was very timely. I prepared them pretty much the same way you did. I'm sooo happy....I think I did it RIGHT!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info Mama Pea:) My son wants me to do onions next year, so this is very helpful:)

Mama Pea said...

KM, Beth, and Stephanie - You're all very welcome!

Erin said...

I do pretty much the same thing, except mine are hung on the shady deck - always nice to know I'm not doing things completely different than others, LOL! My big difference is that we can't store them here, so mine get chopped and frozen!

Mama Pea said...

Erin - Here's a question I'm wondering about: If you are going to chop and freeze your onions, is it necessary to hang and dry them first? Could you just take them from the garden and process them without the drying step?

Erin said...

Absolutely! But the homesteader in me always cures them in hopes of having a few store LOL.... then after about a month I give up and chop and freeze them :)